One of President Donald Trump's earliest and most prominent evangelical backers is saying that evangelicals have "found their dream president."
In an interview Saturday on "Fox News with Jeanine Pirro," Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, argued that President Trump's first 100 days in office have been great for evangelicals on many fronts.
Though the figure is disputed by some, exit polls indicated that 81 percent of self-described white evangelical voters voted for Trump in the 2016 election. A Fox News poll of white evangelicals in late April showed that their support has held steady, with 73 percent approving of the 45th president's performance on the job, approval that is approximately double that of the general public.
"I think evangelicals have found their dream president," Falwell said.
"I think reuniting Israel with America after eight years of treating them badly, appointing Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, appointing people of faith to his Cabinet in almost every area ... I think he is attacking ISIS so that Christians being murdered in the Middle East will stop. All those things that evangelicals love."
Falwell's words about Middle Eastern Christians come on the heels of Trump's first international rescue, Aya Hijazi, a Muslim woman who had been imprisoned in Egypt since 2014.
Nina Shea, who chairs a religious freedom center at the Washington-based Hudson Institute, initially expressed optimism about Trump's stated advocacy for persecuted religious minorities soon after he took office. But the controversial travel bans he issued have been tied up in courts and movement on the issue has been scant. According to the Washington Post on April 25, as Hijazi was being released Shea was working on travel visas for a Christian archbishop in Iraq who was had been denied entry into the U.S.
"I'm bewildered about who's making decisions," Shea told the Post.
"I was hopeful based on President Trump's statements that he was going to help [Middle Eastern Christians], not at the expense of others," Shea said. "So far, there hasn't been attention to it."
But evangelicals are concerned about a wide variety of issues, Falwell continued. They went in a different direction in 2016 because they were also concerned about border security and bringing jobs back.
"I think they are just as thrilled about all those things, and going after sanctuary cities," he said.
He added that evangelicals are not happy about the moderate Republicans in Congress who seem to be obstructing the President's agenda. And he believes those who are will not be reelected in the 2018 mid-term elections.
"These moderates just make my blood boil," Falwell said.
"Honestly, I have more respect for Democrats than I do moderate Republicans, because at least Democrats admit what they believe, and they say it up front and you know what you're dealing with."
"These moderates pretend to be conservatives, the woo conservative voters, and then they're not conservative when they get in office. So that part just makes my blood boil," he reiterated.
When Republicans tried to fulfill Trump's promise of repealing Obamacare, however, it was the House Freedom Caucus, the conservative wing of the Republican Party, that opposed it while moderate Republicans supported it.
Pirro asked Falwell, as the president the largest Christian University in the world, what he made of campus hostility against conservative speakers and threats of violence at University of California-Berkeley in recent weeks and months and what conservative evangelicals could do to protect free speech on their campuses.
Falwell replied that it was "comical" to watch this unfold because Bernie Sanders spoke at Liberty University and was treated with the same respect that Pirro was treated when she spoke there recently, even though the students agreed with her and not with Sanders.
"I think that's what higher education is supposed to be about, is hearing opinions that you don't agree with, learning from the other side," he said.
Elite universities are "a joke," he added, in that they "claim to be bastions of academic freedom when really they're only bastions of political correctness."
"Liberals used to defend free speech. And now it's just the tables have turned completely.
"They're more like fascists than liberals," Falwell concluded.